Meet the children waiting to be adopted across London

Adopting a child by Patricia Dopemu

1st February 2022 Blog

At one time or another, many of us will have thought about adopting a child, especially as we know some children can wait longer for a new parent. For author Patricia Dopemu and her family, adoption was a lifelong calling. She had the desire but felt she wasn’t quite ready, or that she needed to be rich, until a friend said ‘no-one is ever 100% ready or rich enough to welcome a child into their home – by birth or adoption. Just go for it, and you’ll see, things will work out.’

Patricia realised her friend’s words were so true.

‘My husband and I always wanted to adopt. After having our birth daughter and then a son – he was ten years old, we made the decision to find out more. We had busy jobs, a lively home, a good Christian community of friends and family – a blessed life. I just knew I had more to give, and there was a lot more love in our hearts to care and raise another child.

We attended an information session and it was then I started to understand – adoption wasn’t just about children being orphaned or that the children had no-one, instead I discovered the complexity of events leading up to adoption and the impact on hundreds of children. It just spurred me on.

It encouraged me to write my book; Help! I’m Adopting A Child, because I wanted to tell other families – like ours – that adoption wasn’t something to be fearful of, but instead, to be embraced. I wanted to give families the same information and reassurances that I wanted to know as a Black Christian woman and in a way that is honest, informative and encouraging. 

 

I realise many people worry about whether they can adopt, maybe because of a negative past relationship, a wrong life choice, a family secret – all expecting that this one thing meant we weren’t ‘good enough’ to adopt. But it is the complete opposite. Experience is the best teacher.  It shows that we have moved on and learnt from those issues, and it has made us stronger. Social workers were looking for information that showed my family had the potential to become an extraordinary family, and be given the responsibility of raising a child needing adoption.

After initial discussions with the adoption recruitment team, they invited us to a preparation group session. Five families from all walks-of-life, mostly Londoners, started on this insightful journey that revealed so much. It opened my eyes and explained the UK adoption process. All of these children who needed adoption had a previously life that they could not go back to. This early life is theirs; they have lived it – even those placed for adoption from birth. They have birth parents and possibly an extended family. In most cases, none of those people could keep the child safe from harm, despite their efforts and support available. A judge makes the final decision and the child is placed in foster care, then adoption. I realised it is generations of families that influence a child’s future – it’s not about ‘owning a child’ – even our own birth children. It’s about everyone surrounding each child with the love and support they need to make a change.

The adoption process

The assessment process was more personally challenging, but it opened up the most insightful (and beautiful) conversation with my mother who revealed information about my life that I had never known. It forced me to remember the people that formed my story. It was a hard thing to do, but helped me understand my own life.

Once approved, as a family we found four-year-old Jay. Our birth son wanted a brother. So that was that. We were already raising a son, so one more felt like a good fit. Thankfully, we were selected as his new family.

There is a tradition in our community about raising your own birth children, but in my view, adopted children are children of the community. Yes, we have to manage the areas of their previous life to support them, as it is their history. Our son Jay has questions about his early life, and we answer them honestly and appropriately.

 

I wanted to write my book to share the message that adoption has many elements to it – some amazing and some challenging, for good reason. I wanted to normalise adoption, and with knowledge and the right information, it’s an option many of us can take up. adoption, and with knowledge and the right information, it’s an option many of us can take up.

Our home is just like any other family home; balancing work and family life; homework, dinner, family movie! My boys bicker – they are brothers, what siblings don’t? But they love each other.

Together we are family.

Patricia’s book Help! I’m Adopting a Child  is now available at Amazon.co.uk and other major book retailers. Please visit our page dedicated to adopting black and mixed ethnicity children.

This interview with Patricia Dopemu was first published in the October 2021 issue of Pride Magazine – Celebrating Women of Colour. 
Next: Inspirational Birth Mum Poem

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